essential ingredients to breaking and forming habits

We all have habits. Some good. Some not so good. Some downright terrible.

It’s an accepted rule that habits take 21 consecutive days (three weeks) to form—or to break. Knowledge is power, so they say, so let’s use that power to make or break some habits.

To begin, it’s best to take a few minutes to think about habits we have—all of them. The good and the bad should be acknowledged.

Now, write them down. We can separate them into categories if desired, such as good, bad, and terrible. For the bad and terrible habits, think about and write down what you’ll gain once these habits are broken. Does it allow for more time for other, productive tasks? Or are you a workaholic lacking time to relax and relieve stress? Will breaking this habit free up time to be with family or loved ones?

Jot it all down. One or two sentences at most is recommended so you can quickly glance at them all later on. This can be hand-written or a note on the computer. Whatever is comfortable. Important thing is that you will see it daily.

I’m a believer in getting the small or “easier” things done first, and since all habits take the same time to make or break, working on breaking “easier” habits first is the best idea in my opinion. This way we’ll know it’s not as difficult as we thought, and will also give us positive reenforcement (encouragement) to work on other habits. You’ll notice you feel good after knocking off a habit or two. Dopamine is released after accomplishments or productivity—think of it like the “gold stars” from elementary school. That’s what i do.

Choosing the first habit to break is next.

Remember: the first 72 hours will be the most difficult, especially if it’s a bad habit we attempt to break during a Friday to Monday (the weekend).

This is typically because many of us have little to no structure on weekends. Without work to keep us busy or having tasks to focus on, we can lose sight and motivation to stick with the habit-breaking.

But don’t be discouraged.

The weekend may be the best time depending on our schedules. We may need the leisure time to actually unwind and take a few hours off to relax. Finding time to unwind, to decompress for 2-3 hours daily could be a habit we’re attempting to form. Everything is relative and on an individual basis.

The most important step now is to keep track of our progress. Whether we use a physical calendar with dates or a whiteboard, it’s vital we mark down in some way each consecutive day we complete in our habit-breaking.

And, after a measly 21 days, we will be better, more productive (or less stressed) people!

I hope this was useful. Give it a try and let me know how it works out.

Stay focused on breaking and forming habits!